One thing that I learned a long time ago is that people always have expectations. Whether it’s a movie or a marriage or dinner or a photography session – people form expectations about what the experience will be before it happens. At FotoFly, we understand what your expectations are and try to pleasantly surprise you each time you visit.
With FotoFly Santa, you and I formed expectations. I formed them when we developed the program. You formed them when you made an appointment. Now that we have done this for a week, I have made it through most of the learning curve and have reset my expectations on some things and want to be sure that you are clear about what the experience is going to be like before you enter our tent.
First, when we originally set the program, we were planning on shooting one pose per customer. We felt we could easily do that in 5 minutes and scheduled appointments 5 minutes apart. This past week, we evolved to attempting two poses per session when possible. My reason for doing this was to increase the odds that you would like at least one image. If we only did one pose, if you didn’t like it, you’re stuck. There are some situations where we only do one pose: a child is REALLY struggling or it’s a large group. If we can reasonably do two poses, we go for it.
Because of this desire to create two poses, we are finding that we are often running behind schedule – at times, we’ve been up to an hour behind schedule. Those of you who have been to the Draper studio know that this is not normal for us. Since the appointments are so short at FotoFly Santa, a few difficult children in a row have a compounding effect on the wait and suddenly we’re 30 minutes behind.
There are a few simple, unacceptable solutions to this problem:
• Take only one pose. Again, I don’t like giving you one option.
• Lower our quality standard to ‘good enough’ so we can move quicker. I can’t do that.
• Schedule more time per session and still charge $20. If we allow more time for each session, we are going to have to charge more.
• Add a camera. We tried that today, it didn’t work for a variety of reasons.
So, this is what you can expect. When you arrive at our tent, you check in by giving us your name and a phone number where we can text you. At that point, we can give you a pretty good idea of if we are on time or how far we are behind. You can then choose to wait in our tent and be entertained by watching us do our thing – or, you can choose to explore Thanksgiving Point and we can text you when we’re about ready for you. We have a traditional Santa there. He’s ready to talk with your children and give them a candy cane – either before or after your session.
When it’s your turn for pictures, one of our assistants with help you get dressed in a Santa costume. Again, you can elect to have our Santa stand in for you if you think your kids will be okay with it. Once you’re dressed and we start, you can expect that Mike and/or I will give you our full, complete attention for a reasonable amount of time to ensure that you get the absolute best Santa pictures within our power to create. We will give everything we have for you and your children – whatever it takes. We really, really want you to like your Santa pictures – we want the images to be legendary. There will be no question in your mind that we are giving it 100%.
This may take 5 minutes, it may take 10 minutes, it may take 2 minutes. You may watch us work with a family for ten minutes and then be surprised when we are done with yours in two. This does not equate to a difference in quality. We have the same standard of quality, it just takes longer sometimes. We literally have done some of our best sessions in two minutes.
After your session, you can expect that we are going to spend 10-15 minutes editing your pictures. Last week, this took us as long as 30-40 minutes – mostly due to Mike and I forgetting to take a picture of your ‘session identification card’ before your session and our editors had to figure out who you were. We’ve gotten much better at doing that and the editing time is much, much quicker. We will text you when your images are done being edited and you will go into the Emporium – just to the North of our tent.
We will quickly show you your images and load them on the flash drive and you can print prints up to an 8×10 in size – which we begin printing immediately and it takes about 2 minutes per sheet to print.
The main reason I wanted to write this was to communicate that there is sometimes a wait before your session. I believe that, if you are expecting that and plan for it, it will be a more pleasant experience for all of us. Thanksgiving Point has a deli and ice cream and shopping and reindeer and ice sculptures. I suppose it’s entertaining watching Mike and I hit each other with squeaky toys.
It’s our goal to be on time and we reevaluate every day what we’re doing and where we can improve. I’ve been stressed about this because I care about everyone that walks through those tent doors and I really want every one of those kids to be happy and get good pictures. I sense when you are getting frustrated and I want everyone’s experience to be perfect. We’re falling short on that and I’ve been amazed at how understanding everyone is. We appreciate it.
Mike and I are photographing about 70 sessions each day in the six hours that we are open. We’ve got a support team that are all working hard to greet, dress, edit, present, and print as good and quick as possible. We commit that we will give as much effort into the last session as we did the first. Your pictures will be worth the wait – expect that.